Good morning and welcome to the Morning Chalk Up. There have been major changes in the CrossFit Games qualification process, but one story that has received less attention involves the Teen divisions. Ava Kitzi, a 16-year-old athlete, shares her thoughts on this and more.Today:
The “future of fitness.”
Lazar Dukic’s unorthodox path to the Games.
A new documentary on the global phenomenon of CrossFit is coming soon.
News and updates from the community.
As you cruise through your weekend be sure to hit us up with PRs and story ideas at [email protected].
“Age is foolish and forgetful when it underestimates youth.”
— J.K. Rowling
The Future of Fitness: Why You Should Care about CrossFit Teens (OpEd)
By Ava Kitzi
It was just over a year ago that the Morning Chalk Up reported on the major changes coming to the CrossFit Games qualification process. Since then, seemingly every coach, commentator, and competitive athlete has tweeted their thoughts on this new era, but rarely has it focused on the dramatic changes to the “future of fitness,” namely the up-and-coming teen athletes.
The message that teens are the future, the heirs to Greg Glassman’s vision, has come across loud and clear. But perhaps not everyone at HQ heard it. At 16-years-old, I’ve qualified for the Age Group Online Qualifier (AGOQ) three times in the last two seasons, and I’ve had a front-row seat to this disconnect.
When the 2019 CrossFit Games rulebook was released, it confirmed the rumor spreading among teen athletes for weeks–that only ten would compete in Madison in each age division, slashing the previous two years’ invitations in half. You can bet serious money that the Games Instagram page received 800 irate DMs from some very upset 14 to 17-year-old Games hopefuls.
You can bet serious money that the Games Instagram page received 800 irate DMs from some very upset 14 to 17-year-old Games hopefuls.
For as long as I can remember, Regionals (RIP) athletes earned three days of glory, a t-shirt with their name and some professionally photographed action shots for making it. This seemed to be HQ’s token of appreciation, its gift to the athletes. There is no such thing as a gift from HQ for teens. The closest thing we get is a one-size-fits-all congratulatory email for qualifying to the AGOQ. Last year, that email arrived just two weeks before the qualifier actually started.
“Good luck and train hard!” the email urged. By this point though, almost two months after the Open wrapped up, everyone who cared seriously about doing well had already gone through a strength cycle, done some obscure, weird form of training like, obstacle courses or picking up kegs, and had probably done triple Fran or something else completely detrimental that an online programming service recommended. By the time the qualifier rolled around, they’d gone to Hell and back–physically and mentally. Sure, a box owner might have posted something on Facebook about their teen athlete’s achievements and maybe even organized a Friday Night Lights for one of the qualifier workouts. But when it all came to a close, I know that I for one, felt empty and let down.
Since an official Games qualification process began in 2009, an invitation to the CrossFit Games has been been a coveted prize. For up-and-comers in the sport, the rarity of earning a Games invite, and the tall order of building the fitness to do so pretty meant extreme sacrifice to ensure you could make your way to the competition floor.
Absent of injury or extenuating circumstances it was unheard of for an athlete to decline a chance to compete with “The Fittest On Earth,” but in 2019 that’s precisely what Lazar Dukic–Serbia’s national champion–did by passing on his chance to represent his country in Madison.
Betting on the future: Hailing from the small Serbian town of Temerin, the 24-year-old Dukic had much bigger aspirations in mind when he decided to forgo the Games in 2019 and instead continue on the path towards personal growth.
“I was thinking about what would be the best way for me to take my fitness to the next level. In my opinion, preparation for the Games is different than training to become a better athlete,” said Dukic,
“I didn’t feel like I would’ve been competitive against the big names, hence I wanted to focus on training and improving so I could be a threat this year.”
So while the rest of the CrossFit world was focused on an August weekend date in Madison, Dukic was carefully improving his weaknesses, working with a Georgian weightlifting coach four times a week to improve technique and strength, and putting in the miles to improve his running. The physical efforts in the gym have also helped him build another important part of his game.
“I think I’ve grown to know myself much more in the past year,” Dukic reflects, “and that’s brought my mental game to a higher level.”
Proof is in the pudding: Skipping the Games to improve is one thing, but for the juice to be worth the squeeze, it requires action and results on the back end to stand as justification for such a bold move. So far the results for Dukic have been promising.
Dukic repeated as the national champion of Serbia, accepting his invite this time, and winning his first career Open workout worldwide by topping the leaderboard in 20.5.
Dukic on the win: “It meant a lot to me, mostly as a confirmation to myself that I’m doing what I need to do and that I’m going in the right direction with my training.”
A year after finishing 11th overall, Dukic returned to a loaded field at the Dubai CrossFit Championship and finished 5th overall ahead of veterans like Jonne Koski, Willy Georges, Jason Smith, Elliot Simmonds and Travis Mayer.
It’s still early in the season, but putting down elite performances in the Open, as well as being able to translate the last year of training into a top performance at an event like Dubai–where the programming aligns more with the Games than most Sanctionals–is a huge confidence boost.
Head down, eyes forward: There’s still seven months before the 2020 Games get underway, and on top of the usual training, Dukic plans on staying active to help keep things sharp before his rookie debut. He plans on competing at a couple of non-sanctioned events around Europe as well as defending his title at the ELFIT CrossFit Championships in April.
It’s certainly been an unorthodox path to the Games, but when he walks out onto the field for the opening ceremony this summer, the Serbian flag held high above him, Lazar Dukic can stand proudly behind his decision.
“I don’t regret it and I feel as if it’s starting to pay off.”
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Two champs, one interview. Armen Hammer sits down to chat with Mat Fraser and Tia-Clair Toomey about the Sanctionals season, training together in Cookeville and some of their most grueling workouts ever.
Learn how to set your own macros and hit them for three weeks straight without restricting the foods you love. This challenge will help you dial in your nutrition and begin to see the results you’re after. Each day you’ll receive a lesson, plus an action you can take right away.
Why Rich Froning Sr. is The Man and The Best $11 Steak We Ever Had
In this episode of Talking Elite Fitness, Sean and Tommy recap the Mayhem Classic, who will be getting the invite to the CrossFit Games for the men and the women, and who impressed them the most over the weekend.
Available for two weeks only, you can grab a Morning Chalk Up tank, tee or tactical patch (US Only) and help support the team delivering you all the stories, interviews, content and updates you can possibly handle. Each purchase goes directly to keeping the team on the road.
Tiffany Beaupre does a clean + front squat + jerk complex at 220 pounds.
“Out of the Box” CrossFit Documentary to Debut on iTunes
A new CrossFit documentary is set to make its debut on iTunes on February 18. Filmmaker and CrossFit coach Amit Tripuraneni has converted his popular web series, Out of the Box, featured on the CrossFit YouTube channel, into a full-length film about the intersection of CrossFit, travel and culture.
CrossFit’s worldwide influence: Out of the Box highlights the global influence of CrossFit as it features stops in Bali, China, Vietnam, Manila, Taiwan and other countries. Along the way, it showcases the cultures in these locales and how CrossFit has immersed itself in them.
Interviews and influencers: Tripuraneni not only highlights the communities in these countries but also many of the top CrossFitters who have found themselves as ambassadors of the sport while traveling the world. Brent Fikowski and Kristin Holte offer their perspectives on CrossFit’s global outreach as they prepare for the 2019 CrossFit Games. CrossFit founder Greg Glassman, endurance coach Chris Hinshaw and Dr. Julie Foucher-Urcuyo also sit down for interviews on the state of the CrossFit phenomenon.
Community support: Picked up for distribution by Gravitas Ventures, the distributors behind the popular CrossFit Games “Fittest on Earth” documentaries, the film is produced by DigiFit Productions with renowned producer Kristen Chandler Toth providing Tripuraneni production assistance. Pre-sales for the documentary are open now.
Follow the official Out of the BoxInstagram account for more news and exclusive content.
Morning Chalk Up
News and Updates from the Community
Here’s a quick end-of-week wrap-up on some things trending around the CrossFit community:
Drop-In Doc: We are big fans of Dr. Adam Schulte, a family and sports medicine physician in Orange County, CA. The Morning Chalk Up and A Fresh Cup of Fitness have both profiled his efforts to bring the CrossFit methodology into line with his medical training benefitting affiliate members and the community at large. Now he has his own space at Resolution CrossFit and is taking clients.
Coffee, Pods, and WODs: With seven episodes available already, check out Coffee, Pods, and WODs, a weekly podcast devoted to conversations on sports, mindset, coaching, training, podcasts and coffee. Weekly guests offer their insights and experience over a cup of coffee.
Deep End Fitness: Have you ever considered combining CrossFit, swimming and freediving into a single workout? Probably not, but Don Tran and the trainers at Deep End Fitness, based out of Southern California, have. They’ve been working with a variety of professional athletes, including NFL players, surfers, MMA fighters and Olympic swimmers, to develop a unique and intense
training protocol that helps build physical prowess, but perhaps more importantly, mental toughness. On May 16, they will be hosting a Deep End Fitness Challenge in Irvine, CA for three-person teams. The workouts will be released on March 1, and we’ll be sure to follow-up closer to the action.